I knew there is a word called Homesick but since I have returned from Hawaii I have discovered a new word and that is “ Hawaiisick”. The word “Aloha” is still buzzing in my ears…so much warmth, love, care and the best emotion it conveys is “Welcome” to our heaven of Hawaii.
The fresh, floral air energizes you. The warm, tranquil waters refresh you. The breathtaking, natural beauty renews you. When I look around now for the places I have seen so far there’s no place on earth like Hawaii.
Its beauty can’t be described in words nor can it be captured in pictures. Though this fact didn’t stop me from clicking pictures. We went for a week’s vacation and I clicked 4000 pictures which were just 2000 less than my wedding pictures!!! That justifies it for being our Honeymoon J
Initially we had decided to cover 2 islands i.e. Maui & Big Islands but then we realized that there is so much to see in one island that days won’t be enough so we stick to Maui. That was a good decision as it gives me more liberty to visit Hawaii again for the remaining islands.
As soon as we landed on the Kahului airport in Maui, Ritesh had planned a surprise for me. We got “Leid”…Don’t be wide eyed open…its nothing but traditional way of greeting you with the garland of orchids. The lei custom was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands by early Polynesian voyagers, who took an incredible journey from Tahiti, navigating by the stars in sailing canoes. With these early settlers, the lei tradition in Hawaii was born.Leis were constructed of flowers, leaves, shells, seeds, nuts, feathers, and even bone and teeth of various animals. In Hawaiian tradition, these garlands were worn by ancient Hawaiians to beautify themselves and distinguish themselves from others. There are, however, a couple of “unspoken rules” one should know when receiving a lei for the first time. Lei should be welcomed as it is celebration of one person’s affection to another. Therefore, always accept lei, never refuse.
The journey to the heaven started from the Kahului Airport itself as it is located on the northern edge of the land bridge between Haleakala and the West Maui Mountain Range on the island of Maui. To make our trip more adventurous we rented a Jeep and drove roof top down to Marriott Waliea Resort. We stayed 3 days in Marriot and 3 days in Hyatt which enabled us to see two different regions of Maui which are Waliea and Lahaina.
Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa was an ideal location among Maui hotels and resorts, located between two beautiful beaches with pristine white sands and endless blue water. It had oceanfront setting with infinity-edge pool, featuring overwater cabanas with panoramic ocean views. Kumu Bar & Grill was our favorite eating destination as it served the best mango margarita, fish tacos and onion rings. I saw the best sunset of my life from the infinity pool which was a combination of arenas of pink orange red and the serene waters of ulua and wailea beach.
Our first day in Wailea was dedicated to exploring the Marriott and its amazing restaurants and infinity pool. The second day started with early morning as we left for snorkeling. When I used to see discovery channel featuring the amazing aqua videos , I had never imagined that I will be able to actually have that experience in my life. We took The Molokini and Turtle Town snorkel tour. Once you have been there, it is easy to understand why Molokini snorkeling has become the number 1 snorkeling destination in the Hawaiian Islands. Molokini offers exceptionally clear water with visibility reliably in excess of 150 feet. Molokini snorkeling is truly a unique experience, as there are only 3 volcanic calderas including Molokini in the entire world. In this offshore marine sanctuary, sparkling waters are just the beginning of an experience you will not soon forget. With hundreds of species of fish and marine animals endemic to Hawaii, and coral combinations not found anywhere else in Hawaii, Molokini snorkel is a rare opportunity to view marine life and coral formations not found at other Maui snorkel destinations or anywhere else in the world. Molokini truly is in a league of its own. Throughout our Maui Molokini snorkel experience, we were cruising on board Maui’s finest 65-foot Maxi Catamaran the “Pride of Maui”. We were served with amazing breakfast and delicious lunch.
The evening was a chilled one as we had our share of adventure that day with the Snorkeling tour. Down the strip of South Kihei there are a diverse array of restaurants, shave ice stops, ice cream places and Asian cuisine. It’s difficult to find, when looking for something satisfying, easy on the wallet, and relatively quick. Café O’ Lei, in South Kihei suits many tastes with their sushi menu, lunch and dinner items that span the range from Asian to American flavors and interpretations. We had a nice a dinner at Café O’ lei in Kihei. We discovered this place through Yelp and it certainly fulfilled our expectations. It was a combination of good ambience, excellent service, and good food….what else do you want J. The Tomato Leek Flatbread and Garlic Jumbo Shrimp is a must have..how can I forget the complimentary ceaser saladJ.Dessert was a sweet affair with Chocolate flourless cake and Lappert’s ice creams.
On the third day we said Adios to Marriot and Waliea and headed for Hyatt Regency in Lahaina .Lahaina is a town on the western end of the island of Maui & is the state capital of Kingdom of Hawaii. The drive to Lahaina was very picturesque along the shores of Kannapali beach. After reaching Lahaina our first stop was at Hula Bar & Grill for lunch. Hula Grill is the best restaurant in the Whalers Village shopping center in the middle of Kannapali Beach. It has a casual section on sand for lunch with soothing live music in the background. The artist sang “I am Your’s” by Jason Marz and it just made my day J.Tables are open-air with beautiful views of the ocean. I had the Hulajito cocktail which was Hula Grill’s tropical twist on a classic mojito made with Old Lahaina light rum, fresh mint and pineapple…. Hip swinging happiness! Ritesh had a cucumber margarita which was so refreshing too. We ordered our first starter, “Hawaiian Ceviche” which was mahi mahi fish in lime, coconut milk, Maui onion, cucumber, and chili with avocado. Lunch entrée was “Grilled Fresh Island Fish” sautéed in lemon butter herb sauce and served with steamed white rice. What can be the best end for the perfect sunny lunch but a Pineapple Upside Down Cake:)
After an amazing lunch it was time to check-in our next hotel which was Hyatt Regency just a mile away. They gave us a warm welcome with Lei greeting and also some extra goodies like an album and a complimentary bottle of champagne as we were a Honeymoon Couple…JKudos to Hyatt for this gesture. Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa is an ultimate Kannapali Beach hotel. This resort was a feast on the beauty of nature, with priceless art collection, and best in house dinning places like Swan Court, Umalu & Japengo. From scuba diving and tennis lessons by a pro to hula demonstrations, lei making classes, or art and garden tours, everything is around this spectacular 40-acre resort. We experienced our most incredible stay here. We spent our evening exploring the resort. The swimming pool was just too good with two waterfalls and a nice bar from where you can get drinks and sip them while swimming….what a luxury han..:) Can you imagine a wildlife tour in a hotel? But it happens in Hyatt. They have variety of birds from flamingoes, swans, parrots and penguins kept in the natural ambience of the hotel and the best part is, they are not kept in cage!
After a nice walk through the resort we had our late night dinner at Umalu. This chic poolside venue showcases modern Hawaiian cuisine. As I was sipping my Mai Tai the Hawaiian specialty cocktail, I was enjoying the stunning views of the ocean, as well as Lanai and Molokai islands. We had the sesame seared Hawaiian ahi in appetizer and big island pizza in entree from the grill. How can I not mention the best part of the dinner which was the chocolate macadamia nut crème brulee crunchy with caramel macnuts, chocolate mousse and vanilla bean brulee…yummmmmmmmmy. I had sweet dreams that night with the sweetest dessert 🙂
The 4th day was shopping spree. We didn’t want to shop in a shopping mall but in a flea market to experience the local flavor. We learnt about Aloha Stadium Swap Meet which is Hawaii’s largest open air flea market where the locals shop for the best deals in town. Open three days a week, they offer endless rows of over 700 local merchants offering the best value on imported merchandise, handmade items, art pieces, popular local snacks, and other made in Hawaii products. This is sure to be your one stop destination to find that special gift or souvenir for everyone on your list. Ritesh got his long awaited Hawaiian shirt from this market and my shopping list is too long to mention J Wearing flower hair clips is a big tradition in Hawaii and I managed to get a variety of these flowers in this market which I wore throughout my vacation and that too in different colors matching to my attire
In traditional Hawaiian culture, if you are a woman and wore a flower pick of any kind behind your right ear, this means that you are single. Men will sometimes wear a small flower behind their ear, but it’s only for the fragrance and doesn’t have any specific meaning. If you put the flower pick behind your left, it signals that you are in a relationship. While real flowers are traditional, fabric flower picks are worn as well.
The most common flowers worn in the hair or behind the ears of Hawaiian’s are Gardenias, Hibiscus or Plumeria. Plumeria is the most common out of these three. In the Hawaiian language, Gardenias are called ‘kiele’ ,Plumeria are called ‘melia’ and ‘Aloalo’ is ‘Hibiscus’.
We skipped our lunch that day because we enjoyed a grand breakfast at the Swan Court in Hyatt. Each morning, Swan Court offers a lavish breakfast buffet, along with an extensive menu of a la carte selections. Enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee in our open-air restaurant as you watch the swans float calmly by. They served delicious baked goods like muffins, croissants, carrots breads, fresh fruits like pineapple, kiwi, berries and yogurts and my favorite omlette made to order, sausages and french toast.
There was another reason to keep our stomach a bit empty and that was the most awaited hawaiin dinner at “Drums of the Pacific Luau”.
The sound of the conch, the beating of the drums, and the echoes of the Hawaiian chant signal was the start of Hawaii’s most exciting Luau. “Drums of the Pacific Luau” Polynesian Spectacular took us on a journey through the islands of Polynesia, complete with a traditional imu ceremony and the exotic flavors of native Hawaiian cuisine. This luau was the display of authentic dances and music of the old Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Tahiti, Tonga, and Rarotonga. It is one of the hottest Luau Show in the Islands.
The Luau commenced with a warm greeting of shell lei and fresh mai tais or fruit punch for each guest. It was followed by a delightful performance of Hawaiian music. The torch lighting ceremony was impressive. One of the main attractions was the authentic imu ceremony – the unveiling of the main dish, Kalua Pua’a which is the grilled pork.
We enjoyed array of Hawaii cuisine with generous buffet including Kalua Pork, Huli Huli Chicken, Mahi Mahi, Polynesian Rice, Vegetables Makamaka, Tropical Fruits Anuenue, Soba Noodles, Lomi Lomi Salmon, Pacific Ahi Poke, Tossed Green Salad, and Poi (taro). Lavish dessert bar featuring Macadamia Nut Lu’au Cream Pie, Haupia with Toasted Coconut, Pineapple Cake and Bread Pudding. It’s a great Hawaiian Luau Feast served throughout the first half of the show. There was a open bar featuring beer, wine, mixed cocktails, mai tais, and fruit punch. There was also a display of traditional arts and crafts.
One feature of the show was to invite the guests from the audience and perform the Hawaiian hula dance on the stage with the professional hula dancers. Guess what, even I participated on the stage performance. Wow…what an experience it was! This Luau was one of the unforgettable experiences on our vacation.
Next day was our last day in Hawaii and started with a drive up to Haleakala. Stretching across Maui’s southern and eastern coastline, Haleakala National Park is home to Maui’s highest peak. Rising 10,023 feet above sea level, Haleakala’s graceful slopes can be seen from just about any point on the island. Haleakala means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian language.
It is one of the world’s largest dormant volcano. Many visitors and locals wake up early to drive up to the Haleakala Visitor Center (9,740 feet), the best spot to watch the sunrise. On a clear morning, seeing the sunrise from the summit of Haleakala is an unforgettable experience. Even those who’ve witnessed the event many times say they’ve never seen the same sunrise twice. Perhaps just as spectacular are Haleakala’s sunsets and the bright, starry skies revealed at night. We decided to do a drive instead of the bike ride down that everyone seems to do. I’m glad we did it on our own. We were able to drive at our own pace, got out to take pics, and not freeze our butts off in the middle of the night to watch the sunrise. I’m sure that’s romantic to some people, but freezing my butt off on the top of at 3 am in the morning was not our choice. The drive is gorgeous, amongst the clouds and everything! It seems like there is a breathtaking photo-op at every turn! We tried to capture it almost on every turn and moment. It’s amazing how the climate and topography can change in such a short time period. Felt like you were looking at a lunar landscape.
That evening we just wanted to have a nice dinner and relax as it was our last evening in Hawaii L.I was already low. Ritesh kept me convincing that we will definitely come again to see the remaining five island of this heaven. I hope he keeps his promise
We had a delicious and memorable dinner at Hyatt’s sophisticated fine dining restaurant “Japengo”. We sat at the outdoor patio seating overlooking the resort’s waterfalls and famed Kannapali Beach. We opened the complimentary champagne and made a toast to our amazing time in Maui. We tried the Curry dusted Calamari and the Japengo special fried rice. Ritesh is not that fond of sea food but to my surprise on this trip he just enjoyed the sea food. I never thought that he would enjoy Calamari so much.
Will Miss It Sooooo Much !
Aah…That was the end of our amazing time in Hawaii and I still can’t get over it. The journey of rich Hawaiian culture, warm hospitability, delicious cuisines and breathtaking beauty of Hawaiian mountains, beaches and sugarcane farms. These memories will always remain in my heart as fresh as the Hawaiin Plumeria
See all pics from the trip on below gallery